(Updated) The final ‘Midterms’ update on Nicolas Roy went up today. It is the 17th and final article on the Hurricanes prospects below the AHL level. From the various contacts, conversations and side conversations with other people, I accumulate a decent amount of insight into these players from people who watch them regularly. Based on those conversations, here are some thoughts on the Hurricanes prospect pool. An important starting disclaimer is that I watch very little of the Hurricanes prospects.
ALL LINKS ARE TO MIDTERM UPDATE ARTICLES.
Hurricanes goalie prospects
With the signing of Callum Booth to his entry-level contract last week, the Hurricanes now have 3 goalie prospects under contract – Alex Nedeljkovic, Daniel Altshuller and Callum Booth. Simply because the Hurricanes signed Booth already, my best guess right now is that the Hurricanes intend to continue his development at the AHL level next season though I believe it is possible that he could play another season in juniors as an overage player. Jack LaFontaine made modest step-wise progress with a 3-way split of goalie ice time in Michigan and will certainly continue down that path next season. That leaves Jeremy Helvig. He was originally eligible to be drafted in 2015, but was coming off a rough 2014-15 season that did not earn draft consideration. He had a much better 2015-16 which is what put him back on the radar. His 2016-17 numbers are not as impressive, but from the couple people I talked to, he had a decent 2016-17 season. Even though he would be an overage player like Booth in juniors next season, the Hurricanes actually have his rights through next summer because he was drafted a year later. So if the Hurricanes are not yet decided on his worthiness of an NHL contract or if they just simply want to save the contract slot for another year, Helvig could return to juniors as an overage player. I think that is likely not necessarily because the Hurricanes do not like Helvig but rather simply as the best way to get all of the young goalies ice time. If Helvig stayed in juniors, that would leave 3 slots (2 starters) between the AHL and ECHL level for Nedeljkovic, Altshuller and Booth to share which should be enough to get each goalie regular work.
So my best guess for 2017-18 is that 2 of Nedelkovic, Althuller and Booth play in the AHL and the other plays in the ECHL. Also, however the season starts is subject to be changed a few times with the goal of getting each player some runs of work.
The wild cards are twofold. First is what the Hurricanes think of Daniel Altshuller’s potential going forward. If the Hurricanes do not think Altshuller has potential long-term, there is a chance that they could trade him or simply not re-sign him. That would make more room and possibly a slot for Helvig. The second wild card is the team’s internal ranking/thoughts on Helvig versus Booth. Since Booth signed his contract already, best guess is that the team wants him to play at the AHL level next season, but that is not necessarily the case. I think it is correct that either player could play as an overage player in the OHL next season.
Regardless, it seems like both Callum Booth and Jeremy Helvig have shown enough to take the next step in the long development path for young goalies to reach the NHL.
Solid work finding potential NHL depth forwards in the middle rounds of the 2015 NHL draft
Another thing that jumped out from back and forth conversations over the past couple months is how well the Hurricanes did finding potential NHL depth forwards in the mid to late rounds. Nicolas Roy is already signed and has value significantly above his fourth round pick at this point. I think there is a good chance that the Hurricanes sign both Spencer Smallman who was a fifth round pick and also Steven Lorentz who was a seventh round pick. For the lower-probability players selected from the fourth through seventh rounds, getting 3 players who earn an entry-level contract and progress to the AHL level would be a significant win with potential long-term benefits. The draft class still includes Luke Stevens and David Cotton who are in good situations to develop for multiple years in college.
Favorable reviews on Jake Bean
In the Hurricanes prospect camp, Jake Bean did not stand out to me as exceptional. It was not that he was bad by any stretch of the imagination, but he just did not look head and shoulders above many players who were drafted much lower. But for the higher profile prospects like Jake Bean, it is pretty easy when making the rounds trying to get information on other prospects to get quick inputs from many people who are familiar with his game. The vast majority of the people that I chatted with briefly about Jake Bean were very high on him. Hockey IQ and ability to generate offense were regularly at the top of the list when discussing his play.